Restroom Rehab

Mary Wallace of People Towels with paper towel waste.   
The average person uses 2,400 – 3,000 paper towels at work, in a given year  
(Image: People Towels)

When you go to a public restroom, does it ever bother you when paper towels are tossed on the floor?  Or, when someone leaves the water running?  Or, even worse, doesn’t flush?  Does it bother you that the business is using paper towels to begin with?

Do you do anything about it?

When I find paper towels on the floor of a restroom, I pick them up and put them in the trash can/rubbish bin…before I wash my hands.  Then, after I wash my hands, I use my paper towel to wipe down the counter and then throw my paper towel in the trash can/rubbish bin.  I did this once at a restaurant in Australia when we were living there.  I think I embarrassed my girlfriend, but I probably spent thirty seconds picking up what must have been 20+ towels off the floor and putting them where they belonged.  I said to her “I always try to leave a space better than I found it.”

If the water is left running, I turn off the tap.  Clean water is a precious resource that most of us take for granted.  In many countries, people have to walk miles to retrieve clean drinking water. Appreciating how fortunate we are by not wasting our natural resources will make them last longer.

When the toilet hasn’t been flushed, I use my foot to flush it.  If too much waste builds up in a toilet, it causes clogging issues and then businesses have to call in professional plumbers who may have to use harsh chemicals to clear the clog.

This attitude could propagate out to other areas of our lives.  For instance, pretty much every day, I pick up litter on the way to drop off my daughter at school.  Doing this makes the walk more pleasant because “it doesn’t belong” there…it belongs in a trash can/rubbish bin/recycle bin.

SustainableThree Ways You Can Make a Difference:

  1.  If you visit a restroom with paper towels, take the time to put ones thrown on the floor into the receptacle.
  2. Wipe down counters, turn off running faucets, flush toilets.
  3. Even better, if the business uses paper towels, make a request to their owner/manager that they install sensor dryers that automatically release air if you put your hands in front of the sensor, but doesn’t waste energy at other times.

“Although contradictory claims abound on this topic, a 2007 life cycle analysis by the Climate Conservancy found that using a hand dryer produces fewer climate-changing greenhouse gases than using paper towels.”  ~”Cloth vs. paper vs. dryers: How to be clean and green when you wipe your hands”  (By, Tom Watson, Pacific NW Magazine, The Seattle Times

BONUS: Tweet this!

There are other options to using paper towels or air dryers.  Here are a few:

People Towels

Here’s a great little article:

More details on the topic:

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Light up Your Winter…for Less Money

Light up Your Winter…for Less Money

In the Northern Hemisphere, it is Winter.  Longer nights shadow the shorter days and fewer people walk their dogs on the streets or go for a jog.  It feels quieter, somehow…less hectic.

Many people struggle with the greyer, colder days…and settle in for a hibernation of sorts.

To combat the Seasonal Affective Disorder…or just feel more light and warmth during the colder months, an energy audit is oh-so-helpful.

Here are some tips we gained when an audit was completed on our house:

*Switch all lightbulbs to LEDs

Although there is some cost involved, the savings is well worth the initial investment and longer-lasting bulbs.  That means lower energy bills, brighter lighting and having to change your bulbs less often.

Costco has them at an all-time low price right now, but you can also purchase them at just about any store.  You can sometimes get freebies from your energy company as well.

You can start here.

*Get Draft Dodgers

By “Draft Dodgers”, I don’t mean the people who avoided going to war, but the draft blockers that are placed at the base of doors to ward off cold drafts from outside.

You can start here to find one that works for you.

*Get Insulated!

By adding insulation to your attic and/or walls, you can increase your home’s “tightness”.  Contractors blow additional insulation into your attic and/or walls to bring the insulation level up to, or above, code.  It’s like putting a giant down comforter on your home.

Here might be a great place to start looking into this option.

*Make sure windows and doors are not leaky

Weather stripping and making sure all doors and windows are closed securely can reduce drafts and heat leaks.

Here is a start.

*Use your fireplace, if you’ve got it.  Energy-efficient, natural gas powered fireplaces make it so that you can keep your entire home at a cooler temperature.  Family members gravitate to the room with the fireplace and the burning fire makes the home feel more welcoming and snuggly.

There are more steps you can take.  Start here to find out how to schedule an energy audit.

*Finally, get outside!  Even if it is cold out, a brisk walk can really energize you.  If it is sunny, the light and Vitamin D will do you good.  And your dog, if you have one, will really appreciate it!

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Taming the Toxins in Your Home

Did you know that most of the cleaners on the shelves of your local store have hazardous ingredients?

Many of us grew up using off-the-shelf products to clean our homes, deodorize the air, rid our home and gardens of pests (insects, weeds, bad odors, etc.).  But, did you know that most of the products on store shelves these days have products that are causing all sorts of havoc on our bodies and our environment?

Let’s take this well-known carpet cleaner as an example:


Resolve Spot and Stain Carpet Cleaner may be effective at removing those annoying stains in your carpet, but it contains many toxic ingredients that are difficult to pronounce such as methylchloroisothiazolinone.  Some you can pronounce, but they still are caustic.

Some side effects of the ingredients in this product include:

*Asthma / Respiratory Issues

*Skin Allergies and Irritation

*Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity

*Negative Environmental Impact (Especially to Aquatic Life*)

*Damage to DNA

*If you eat fish, think about what that means.

Simple Green Naturals CarpetA safer alternative is Simple Green Naturals Carpet Care





I will delve more specifically into other products in a later post.

Some other products considered to be hazardous are:

  • Automotive Fluid
  • Auto Batteries
  • Chlorine
  • Bleach Cleaners
  • Corrosive Chemicals
  • Drain Openers
  • Fluorescent Bulbs
  • Fluorescent Tubes
  • Fertilizers
  • Gasoline
  • Glue Adhesives
  • Herbicides
  • Hobby Chemicals
  • Household Batteries
  • Insecticides
  • Latex Paint
  • Mercury
  • Mercury Thermometers
  • Mercury Thermostats
  • Motor Oil & Used Filters
  • Muriactic Acid
  • Oil-Based Paint
  • Paint Thinner
  • Pesticides
  • Polishes
  • Pool Chemicals
  • Rust Remover
  • Stains Spray
  • Paint Stripper
  • Varnishes
  • Waxes
  • Weed Killer
  • Wood Preservatives

If you’re like most people, you don’t have time when shopping to read labels.  And, you probably don’t have time to deal with safely disposing of your hazardous chemicals.

Here is the SustainableThree solution in three steps:

  1. To tame those toxins, a quick and easy option is to contact Waste Management At Your Door.  You can arrange to have your household hazardous waste collected here:
  2. Purchase environmentally-friendly products.  I like to use Environmental Working Group’s web site’s search engine to figure out what’s toxic and what’s not:
  3. Make your own!  This may sound tedious, but it’s actually quite easy and will save you lots of money.  Often, more environmentally-friendly products are more expensive than their toxic counterparts.  You most likely only need to make up batches a couple times a year.  For example, a 32oz/1L. spray bottle of the name brand glass cleaner will cost you about $4. But, if you make your own using white vinegar, water, a drop of dish-washing liquid and some essential oils, the cost is about $0.60 (including the cost of the water.

Here is a great site for recipes  to make your own, eco-friendly cleaners:

Here are some examples of common products and their eco-friendly counterparts:

Most Products People Use to Clean:

  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner


Seventh Generation ToiletSeventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Received an “A” on’s web site



Lysol Toilet CleanerLysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Received an “F” on’s web site

  • Window Cleaner


WFM-Glass-Cleaner-UnscentedWhole Foods Market glass cleaner, unscented

Received an “A” on’s web site




Windex Glass CleanerWindex Original Glass Cleaner with Ammonia-D

Received an “F” on’s web site

  • Cleanser


Bon-Ami CleanserBon-Ami Powder

Received an “A” on’s web site



Comet CleanserComet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder with Bleach

Received an “F” on’s web site

  • Dusting Spray


Sadly, does not list an “A” rated dusting spray.

Here’s a good option:

Citra WoodCitraWood Natural Wood Polish



EndustEndust Multi-Surface Dusting and Cleaning Spray, Lemon Zest

Received an “F” on’s web site


I was shocked at what I found on’s web site.  Many products that I considered to be environmentally-friendly failed when compared to some products which I would have thought to be toxic that weren’t. (i.e. Trader Joe’s “Next to Godliness Environmentally Sound Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Powder” received a “D” while their “…Concentrated Monodose Pacs” received a “B”, so it’s good to take a little time to research your products before you buy them.

Give me your specific questions about specific issues/products you are concerned about and let’s start a conversation!  Click here to ask your questions or express your concern.


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